How To Build A Folding Outdoor Bar

No good tailgating or backyard setup is complete without a solid bar. Build this folding, portable version in a one day!

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Introduction

This folding outdoor bar is a really fun project to build. It tests your ability to complete to cut different width grooves and matching the grooves to board thickness. It challenges your notch-cutting prowess. It expands your knowledge about different ways to glue up boards. But when you are finished, it might be the most satisfying project to put together and showoff. We bought 7/8-in. thick cedar and milled it down to the 3/4 in., but you can use any 3/4 in. thick material to complete the folding bar.

Tools Required

  1. Clamps
  2. dado stack
  3. Drill/driver
  4. Flexible putty knife
  5. Jigsaw
  6. Miter saw
  7. Table saw

Materials Required

  1. 1-1/2” x 30” Continuous hinge (2)
  2. 1-1/4” brad nails
  3. 1” screws
  4. 1x2 cedar
  5. 1x6 cedar
  6. 2” barrel bolt
  7. 2x2 cedar
  8. 3-1/2” chest handle
  9. Exterior wood glue
  10. Screw eye
  11. Wood putty

Cutting List

folding outdoor bar cutting listFamily Handyman

Project Plans

folding outdoor bar project planFamily Handyman

Project step-by-step (8)

Step 1

Cut the shiplap boards

outdoor folding bar cut shiplap boardsFamily Handyman

Cut the 1x6 cedar to 39-in. on the miter saw. Clamp a sacrificial board to the table saw fence. Cut a 3/8” deep x 5/8” wide rabbet into the edge of the 1x6 cedar on the table saw. Flip the board over and cut a 3/8” deep x 1/2” wide rabbet on the table saw. Note: Three of the boards don’t need the 3/8” deep x 5/8” wide rabbet for one edge of the panels and three of the boards don’t need the 3/8” deep x 1/2” wide rabbet for the other edge of the panel.

Step 2

Build the panels

outdoor folding bar build the panelsFamily Handyman

Tape one face of scrap boards, cut to the width of each panel, with packing tape to make clamping cauls. Glue the 1/2” wide rabbets and align the boards. Clamp the cauls on the top and bottom of each end of the glue-up to keep the boards in place. Cut a 3/4-in. wide x 3/4-in. deep. groove into the center of the 2x2 boards with the table saw. Cut the 2x2 edging (B, C and D) to length on the miter saw. Spread glue into the grooves of the 2x2 parts and set them in place. Secure the edging with 1-1/4 in. brad nails.

Step 3

Cut and add hinge mounts and cleats

outdoor folding bar cut and add hinge mounts and cleatsFamily Handyman

Crosscut the 1x2 board to length on the miter saw for the hinge mounts (K) and shelf cleats (L and M). Resaw the 1x2 boards to 3/8 in. thick on the table saw. Using a sacrificial push stick and featherboard makes this step much safer. Glue the hinge mounts in place. Drill pilot holes and counter sink and fasten with 1-in. screws. Measure 16 in. from the top of the panels. Glue the shelf cleats to the panels so the top edge matches the marks. Drill pilot holes and counter sink and fasten with 1-in. screws.

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Step 4

Attach the side panels to the front

folding outdoor bar attach side panels to frontFamily Handyman

Clamp the side panels to the backside of the front panel’s side edging at a 90-degree angle. Set the continuous hinges on the inner side of the assembly. Drill pilot holes and fasten the hinge in place with the included screws to make the bar wall.

Step 5

Assemble the bar top

folding outdoor bar assemble bar top and shelfFamily Handyman

Glue up four 1x6 boards (E). Trim the ends of the glue up to a final length of 48 in. with a circular saw and straight edge. Cut a 3/4-in. wide x 3/4-in. deep. groove into the center of the 2x2 boards with the table saw. Cut the 2x2 sides (G) and front (F) to length on the miter saw. Spread glue into the grooves of the 2x2 parts and set them in place. Secure the front and sides with 1-1/4 in. brad nails.

Step 6

Glue up and notch the shelf

folding outdoor bar glue up and notch shelfFamily Handyman

Glue up three 1x6 boards (J). Trim the ends of the glue up to a final length of 39-3/4 in. with a circular saw and straight edge. Set the shelf in place and mark the notch locations. The notches will need to go around the hinges, side edging (C) and hinge mounts (K). Clamp the shelf to the worksurface and cut out the notches with a jigsaw.

Step 7

Fasten the alignment boards in place

folding outdoor bar attach alignment boardsFamily Handyman

Set the bar wall upright and center the bar top on the bar wall, ensuring that the side panels are at 90-degrees. Mark where the side panels (inside and outside) hit the bottom of the bar top. Glue the 1x2 alignment boards (H) to the bottom of the bar top and fasten with 1-1/4 in. brad nails.

Step 8

Add hardware

folding outdoor bar add hardwareFamily Handyman

Center the chest handle, 4 in. down from the top edge of the backside of the front panel. Drill pilot holes and fasten the chest handle with the included screws. With the bar top on the bar wall, set the 2 in. barrel bolts on the interior alignment boards (H) and mark where the bolt hits the side panel edging. Drill a 5/16-in. diameter hole at the mark. Set the barrel bolts in place, drill pilot holes and fasten with the included screws. Measure 20 in. down on the edge of both side panels. Drill pilot holes and screw in both sides of the hook-and-eye latch.

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